Each year small and medium-sized businesses sit down to draft their budget. Each year they wonder how much they should allocate to marketing. For most B2B companies, marketing is a black box. You put money into it, but what do you really get out of it? Without properly understanding the value of marketing or the cost of the many marketing efforts planned for, companies will typically undercut or over pad the budget.
To help with your budget preparation, here are some of the more popular tactics we see in business to business marketing:
Low/No-cost Tactics: These tactics are often labour-intensive taking up many hours in strategy and management but cost close to nothing in the way of hard costs.
- Thought Leadership: Developing blogs and whitepapers is something that can (and should, in my opinion) be developed internally. You can then use your info media and email marketing tools to share this information with your market
- Case Studies and Testimonials: Developing case studies that showcase specific examples of your company’s success, or asking satisfied clients for feedback is a great way to build credibility and prove your value proposition
- Email Marketing: Another powerful way to nurture relationships and keep information flowing out to prospects, clients and partners
- Partners + Networking: Taking the time to expand your partner network, socialize with prospects at corporate functions and association events is an effective way to help build awareness
- Social or Info Media: Interacting with leads and partners alike on info networks like LinkedIn and Twitter can be a powerful way to nurture relationships in a less formal setting
Medium Cost Tactics: These tactics are more expensive but usually require a specific set of tools or expertise that often cost a bit more.
- PR: Letting the world know about your company’s many achievements is an important way to build credibility and awareness. Many press release distribution sites exist with distribution options ranging from next to nothing to about $800 per release. It’s important to remember that strategic public relations is about more than just press releases. Get to know the reporters in your industry and develop a strategy to approach them with information that may turn into articles or interview requests. I see this as a medium cost tactic because engaging with a specialized PR firm is often a good approach.
- Video: Developing dynamic video content used to be expensive, and it still can be, but for many industries, a low-tech and therefore low-cost video can be the trick. Seems anyone with an iPhone can make a video these days. If your industry doesn’t call for highly technical, highly polished video content, then perhaps consider training up a member of your staff to be able to take and edit video.
High cost tactics: These tactics are often high-cost due to the production involved or the associated fees.
- Trade Shows: Renting a space to exhibit your business is one thing, but being successful at a show likely also includes developing a presence. This often includes a booth or exhibit of some sort, collateral or video presentation, and possibly a giveaway or contest to draw visitors to your booth. If you’re at the show don’t forget to walk the floor and network.
- Website: In the growing digital age, having a strong presence on the web is often your first impression with prospects. Designing a site that will capture the attention of your users and engage them in action (hopefully to call you, or register, or buy) takes a lot of strategic effort. Taking that vision and translating it into a beautiful, well-functioning site takes the expertise of a professional web developer. If you don’t have someone in-house, this can be expensive, but is definitely well worth it.
- Memberships & Associations: Joining various associations and groups, particularly those that your prospective clients are members of, may help you network with your clients in a less “salesy” environment. Many associations offer free memberships, but for those with associated fees this may add up quickly, especially if each staff member requires his or her own membership to get involved.
The trick with any tactic is understanding its ROI. In short, your ROI = (Value gained from investment – Cost of investment) / Cost of investment. More than knowing what a tactical ROI is, knowing which tactic is right for your business requires an in-depth understanding and analysis of your current efforts, your competition and of course your client needs. Before you set your marketing budget you need to understand how much your tactics will cost. And before you set out to develop your marketing tactical plan, make sure you have a marketing strategy in place. Otherwise you may end up engaging in tactics that won’t do anything for you or your bottom line.
If you’re currently working on a marketing budget or simply don’t know where to start, get in touch with us, we’d love to help. Call or send us an email today!